FLSA Standards and Questions

Understanding the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

1.  When is a work-based learning experience subject to FLSA?

Work-based experiences that do NOT meet all student-learner criteria referenced under Federal Employment Relationship are employment relationships and subject to FLSA. According to the FLSA, the definition of “to employ” is “to suffer or permit to work.” Case law states that an employment relationship “does not depend upon the level of performance or whether the work is of some educational and/or therapeutic benefit.”2 The WBL coordinator and employer must review the criteria very carefully before deciding the type of relationship that will exist between the employer and the young person.

2.  When is a student who is employed “covered” under FLSA?

FLSA covers employees who are performing work for any type of enterprise that is either

A. Engaged in interstate commerce

B. Producing goods for interstate commerce, or

C. Handling, selling, or otherwise working on goods or materials that have been moved or produced for such commerce.

3. What about state and local laws?

When there is a difference between federal or state laws/regulations or a municipal ordinance, the strictest standard applies.

4.  What are the implications of an employment relationship “covered” under FLSA?

When a young person who is an employee is covered by FLSA, he or she must be paid no less than the minimum wage, receive no less than one and one-half times the regular rates of pay for each hour worked in excess of 40 hours per workweek, and be employed in accordance with child labor laws.

5.  Are there standards and special provisions for employing minors?

Once it is determined that there is an employment relationship that is covered by FLSA, then certain standards and limitations apply to the employment of students according to their age. The limitations and provisions are discussed in this section.

6.  Are there any exceptions to the standards?

Yes, there are exceptions for: “A student who is enrolled in a course of study and training in a cooperative career and technical education program under a state or local education authority or in a course of study in a substantially similar program conducted by a private school.”

7.  What is the minimum age for employment:

A minor under 14 years of age may not be employed, except: as a newspaper carrier (if at least 11 years of age); in agriculture (if at least 12 years of age and with parental or guardian consent); and as an actor/actress or model.

8.  Are minors permitted to drive on-the-job?

16 year olds are NOT permitted to drive while working on-the-job; 17 year olds are permitted to perform a limited amount of driving on-the-job. See details in Employer Fact Sheet #34.

9.  How important is terminology?

Very important! Contact the U.S. Department of Labor – Wage and Hour Division if you have any questions about terminology. Their role is to help clarify the definitions of apprenticeship, employment relationships, enterprise, hazardous occupations, internships, interstate commerce, stipend, trainee, and other terms used under FLSA.